Thursday, August 21, 2014

Best Gelato Places in Florence

I've always loved Italian Gelato. Once I tried it during our first trip to Italy in 2000, there was no turning back. Gelato became my favorite Ice Cream in the whole world. It was so good, it was worth missing going to the Vatican Museum - literally! Way back in 2000 - we missed entering the Vatican Museum because they closed at lunch on the particular day that we went, and we arrived a few minutes after they closed because we stopped for gelato! The catch was that we didn't realize that the next day was a local holiday, and we were flying back after that, so we had to go home without seeing Michelangelo's fresco in the Sistine Chapel. Since then, it has been in my bucket list to go back, which I got a chance to do in 2007 when Jem and Tim came to visit me when I lived in Paris.

Anyway, back to my gelato tales. While I have never met a gelato place in Italy that I did not love, I have heard rumors to explain why this must be so. A foodie friend of my sister's told us that the gelato places in Italy all taste the same because they make gelato from a mix. Easy as ABC, delivering consistent yummy good taste, all the time. Another gelato related story I heard is that if you move to Italy to open a gelato shop, you just need to work in the summer, when the whole world flocks to Italy, so you work hard for two months, then you close up shop and go on vacation for the rest (10 months) of the year. I remember thinking, wow, what a wonderful life. But I guess, it just makes sense if you can buy the gelato mix, and are therefore assured you'll have a quality product to sell. 

Now, back to the topic at hand. If most places serve gelato from a mix (which is totally good, don't get me wrong), how do you find the BEST gelato in the city? Let me help you!

During my last trip to Florence, a few well meaning friends told me that I absolutely needed to try their favorite gelato places, and I did. So here's my two cents worth on all the places I visited.

Since I really didn't want to go home as big as a blimp, I limited this experiment to one gelato place a day, and since I normally prefer tart and fruity flavors, I made sure that I ordered the smallest cup available and I asked for 2 flavors, normally a fruity one and another creamy and rich flavor.

1. Gelateria Carabè
My friend who recommended Gelateria Carabè told me that it was so good, her husband was able to finish 8 scoops of Ice Cream (yes, he loves Ice Cream) because their Ice Cream is made from 100% Natural ingredients so it's not sweet at all. 
Gelateria Carabè is located in one of the side streets
near Accademia leading to the Duomo.
It looks very unassuming.
It wasn't crowded when I went in the afternoon.
They have benches lined along the wall where
you can sit to enjoy your gelato.
Their gelato selection. I normally choose based on my favorites (Limone and
Fragola), then I also look at which flavors have the least stock left.

Gelateria Carabè immediately intrigued me because they have flavors like Chili and Chocolate, as well as Olive Oil. They also have Chocolate Ice Cream with Rum and different fruits like Pear or Banana.
I decided to go with a Limone (Lemon) and
  Cioccolato di Stromboli (Chocolate with Chili). It was really good!
Just the correct amount of tartness and bite from the Chili to neutralize the
rich dark chocolate.
My ranking: 5 Stars
You can visit their Italian website here.

2. Gelateria Perché no! 
Another friend recommended that I visit Perché no!  for the best Gelato in his opinion.
Gelateria Perché no! is located around two blocks
away from Piazza Della Repubblica.
Like Gelateria Carabè, they also boast of using
100% Natural Ingredients.
I found their gelato selection to be wide, but more on the generic
flavors side. I was tempted to order the ones with a bigger tray,
but I opted to go with my other favorites instead.
I ordered Fragola (Strawberry) and Coffee Crunch.
Selfie with my Gelato
My verdict, it was good, but I found it to be more on the sweet side,
which may be in comparison to the more refreshing gelato from Carabè.  
My ranking: 4 Stars
You can visit their English website here, which leads me to believe that they cater to a lot of tourists.

Another friend of mine recommended GROM. She said it was so good, I really needed to try it, so I also did.
GROM is located in one of the side streets very close to the Duomo.
Among all the highly recommended places I visited,
this one had a line past the door.
And all their Gelato is inside these containers.
Totally unlike the Gelato set-up common in Italy.
You need to look at their board for the flavors, which gives me an idea
that it sort of changes monthly since this was for April.
Their gelato is also made from 100% Natural Ingredients
and they boast of this from their pictures on the wall.
This was the only place where I changed my ordering pattern,
so I ended up ordering the Flavor of the Month - Apple Pie, to go with
Salted Caramel Ice Cream which I couldn't resist.
It was so good, but it was quite sweet, and really really rich. I would probably have enjoyed it better, if I stuck to my formula of eating a fruity flavor with one of the rich ones. I can't wait to go back though, because I was told by both my friend and the server that their bestseller was Crema di GROM. Definitely, something to come back for.

My ranking: 4.5 Stars
You can visit their website here, available in Italian, English, French and Japanese.

I wish I stayed longer than 3 days in Florence, so I could have more than 3 cups of Gelato. But then, a gelato craving is always a good reason to come back, especially when the gelato you're craving for doesn't just come from a mix. just saying.

Gelateria Carabè
Via Ricasoli 60/r

Gelateria Perché no! 
Via dei Tavolini, 19-red 
50122 Florence (IT)


Via del Campanile angolo via delle Oche
50012 Firenze

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